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Teaching Online Journalism

Blogs as conversation

Lots of people have made this point, but Matthew Hurst has pictures to show us how it works. At his blog Data Mining, Hurst uses the posts about — and links to posts about — the Reuters photo of smoke columns above Beirut to show how a story gains prominence in the networked information economy. (Most linked to: Little Green Footballs — if you haven’t seen that post, with more than 800 comments, go now.)

The story about the altered photo is not Hurst’s primary concern — he’s showing us how that story became a conversation. Passed from hand to hand, as it were — linked from blog to blog.

This is one of the key ways in which blogs are different from opinion columns in newspapers (to use just one popular point of comparison). The blogosphere amplifies the signal via cross-linking.

News Web sites that have instituted blogs really need to look at who is linking to them and how often. If no one links to you, maybe you are talking to yourself.

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